Rolo Tomassi @ HMV Institute, 5th May 2011

RT 11

It all kicks off a little late tonight, the first band on at 8.15, meaning those that arrived at doors have been waiting over an hour. It’s a harsh crowd and half empty room for Hymns, and it doesn’t warm up much through their set.

A few tapping toes is about as good as it gets for this northern two-piece. The music is pretty reasonable, though never really catches the attention of the audience. It’s a genre that’s almost impossible to define – Indie just isn’t enough, it’s darker and rockier than the chart stuff. The pair are really let down by frontman/guitarist/vocalists lack of charisma between songs. He’s quieter than the guy at the back, singing ‘Wonderwall’ (’til someone tells him to “f**k off” to everyone’s approval) It’s all a bit lackluster, and certainly doesn’t set the world on fire!

RT 02

Holy State surely make a bigger impact, the four piece filling up the stage a little more and the complete band sounding a lot more impressive. Again it’s that awkward rocky indie that defies genre stereotypes. Despite a more aggressive and lively set, there’s not much more to add about this band. The frontman at least gets a bit more hype going for the headliners, but the crowd is still unresponsive.

RT 15RT 13

The audience seems to be an odd mix of 20-something art rockers and early teen girls. A mix that’s rare to see, but it’s good to know that Rolo Tomassi have something of a future, as by the half-full room their original fan base is starting to dwindle. But it’s Rolo that they’re all here to see, and they really make it known. The cheer that goes up as the background music dies is the loudest of the night so far.


Frontwoman Eva Spence is a charm to watch, swaying and dancing in the quieter sections, and tearing herself about the stage during the heavier parts. Her brother James is a suitable counterpart, matching her energy behind the keys and on vocals. The eclectic and schizophrenic indie-core is still fascinating to listen to, especially with the instrumental talents of the guitarist, drummer and bassist. It’s Evas vocals that really spark the fire though, haunting melodies to ear-splitting screams in the blink of an eye. This band are something beyond unique – if you haven’t seen them, go, just because you’ll never see anything like it.

Review – Ben Duff
Photos – Ken Harrison

About Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *